After initially launching around 4 months ago, Google+ engineers asked brands not to develop their own branded pages, promising that a special type of page for brands was on its way. After months of waiting it was announced late last night (07/11/11) that Google+ brand pages had arrived. You can read a review of the features that these new features offer here. The aim of this article isn’t to review the features G+ brand pages offer, but to ask, what’s the point? Not what’s the point for Google, clearly giving every business from the biggest corporations in the world down to the smallest local cafe a way to market themselves on G+ is an important step in establishing themselves as a useful network. However, as one of the biggest corporations in the world, or a small local cafe, why go to the effort of establishing a presence on Google+?
Many businesses already have a company website, and many also have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Each of these platforms has an individual appeal, and the uses of each differs. These businesses will have spent time and money creating a presence and establishing a community on each of these platforms, and if done well, each has the potential to generate revenues (either directly or indirectly). The question that needs to be answered before more time and money is spent creating another presence on another social network is will it be a worthwhile investment?
In the past many have compared the features and functionality of Google+ to that of Facebook, and in my opinion I believe that this, combined with the relatively small user base of the network, is why Google+ is not, at the moment, a good investment for businesses as another social outlet. Although many B2C business were initially sceptical of the uses of a Facebook page, there are few remaining who do not see the value in having a presence on Facebook. Access to the huge user base, as well as insights into your fan base, targeted advertising and many more features makes Facebook very attractive for businesses. Although Google+ does offer a few different features, there is nothing on Google+ that hugely differs from Facebook, other than its significantly smaller user base. By this I mean that much of the content one shares on Google+, will most likely be the same information that they are sharing on Facebook, so why go to the effort to share this information with significantly fewer people who, if they are truly fans of the brand, are most likely to have already ‘liked’ them on Facebook?
We have read reports this morning that in interview due to be aired tonight Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg references Google’s “little version of Facebook”, and Google have responded that they are “delighted to be underestimated”. The battle between Facebook and Google to be the ‘king of social’ is beginning to heat up, and it is something that should be monitored closely by brands and agencies. However, for now at least, I believe there is no major rush go and create your G+ business page.